Research is Key to Landing Perfect Job at Career Expo
The University of South Florida’s College of Nursing held its annual career expo on Feb. 19, giving job-seeking nursing students a chance to meet face-to-face with health care recruiters looking to fill residency programs.
About 100 nursing students attended the networking event that attracted 19 employers. Recruiters represented local hospitals and health care organizations, as well as employers from Gainesville, Orlando, and along Florida’s Space Coast.
Organizers said the recruiting event, hosted by the College of Nursing’s Student Affairs office and USF Career Services, is a great opportunity for students to land that perfect job after graduation. But preparation is essential.
“Research is key,” said Amanda Marshall, signature events coordinator with the USF Office of Employer Relations. “Generally hospitals want to see that students really know who they are as an organization. So when students can research that and communicate it back, it really helps them to stand out.”
To help students prepare, the College of Nursing hosted two workshops where career consultants and recruiters offered tips on how to shine at the career expo, including advice on what to wear, what to say, and how to make a good first impression.
Harold Mikels, a nurse recruiter for Parrish Medical Center in Brevard County, said he’s looking for potential candidates to fill their Graduate Nursing Experience, a residency program that offers nursing students a customized transition from academia to working at a small hospital with a family atmosphere.
Mikels is traveling throughout the state to attend similar job fairs and said whether he’s looking to recruit students or experienced nurses, he wants to know what drives them.
“What are their passions? Why did they get into nursing? Everybody has a story. I tell them you may apply, but you may not be the fit for us, and we may not be the fit for you. It’s two ways,” he said.
With a nationwide shortage of nurses – the unemployment rate for nurses is less than 1.4 percent and is forecast to continue through 2025 – deciding where they will take that next step and build a foundation is a crucial one, Mikels said.
“Nurses are in huge demand, so they need to be selective on where they want to go. Right now the biggest thing for students is getting that transition and getting that time on the floor. Once they have that, they can write their ticket and go where they want to,” he said.
Nursing student Rachel Callahan, who is graduating in May, said she is focusing on hospitals that have a perioperative nursing residency program.
She said she came prepared by doing some research on employers and by updating her resume at Career Services. Still, the nerves were creeping in.
“I think I need to work on my elevator speech a little bit better, but I think it’s going OK. It’s hard to stand out, because we’re all very similar.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing